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Martinez Is Named Chief Of the Refuge System

Cynthia Martinez, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, became National Wildlife Refuge System Chief in May. Here she holds a scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (i'iwi) at a banding station at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.
Cynthia Martinez, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, became National Wildlife Refuge System Chief in May. Here she holds a scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (i'iwi) at a banding station at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.

Cynthia Martinez has been named by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe as chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Martinez, a 21-year veteran of the Service, had served as deputy chief since 2012.

Martinez “possesses a diversity of experience working within the Service and National Wildlife Refuge System,” Ashe said. “Cynthia also demonstrates the strong leadership and innovation the Service needs as we continue to introduce new generations of Americans to conservation.”

Martinez started with the Service in the mid-1990s as a contaminants biologist in the Ecological Services office in Phoenix. She then moved to the Southern Nevada Ecological Services Office in Las Vegas, where over 15 years she held various positions from fisheries biologist to field supervisor.

From 2007 to 2010, she was refuge manager at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes four refuges in southern Nevada: Desert Refuge, Ash Meadows Refuge, Moapa Valley Refuge and Pahranagat Refuge.

From 2010 to 2012, she served as chief of the Division of Visitor Services and Communications at Refuge System Headquarters. In that role, she oversaw development of the Conserving the Future vision and its ratification at a July 2011 conference in Madison, WI. As Refuge System deputy chief, she led implementation of Conserving the Future and one of its major initiatives, the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program.

Martinez has indicated that as chief she plans to continue to focus on ensuring that work at Headquarters benefits Service employees in the field.

“I embrace the national perspective and will be trying to influence those things we do at the national level to guide what we do on the ground,” she said in an interview with The Wildlife Society. “We work in these majestic places, and I think it’s important to connect with people so our employees can share their passion for what they do and the wild things and places they are entrusted with. We have to do as much as we can to give folks the tools that they need to make these connections.”

In a mid-May message to Service employees who work on refuges, she wrote: “The National Wildlife Refuge System represents our promise to the American people – forged 112 years ago, expanded with Fulfilling the Promise and being built upon as we implement Conserving the Future – that there will always be places for wildlife in our midst. That we work for the benefit of all people. That we are ensuring that wildlife will flourish, on all our wildlife refuges, and future generations will reap the rewards. And that we will never forget our roots.”

Martinez, a native of New Mexico, is a graduate of New Mexico State University (bachelor’s degree in general biology) and the University of Arizona (master’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science).

Martinez succeeds Jim Kurth, who was Refuge System chief from October 2011 until January 2015 before being promoted to Service deputy director for operations.

Republished with permission from Refuge Update July/August 2015.

 

Last updated: July 31, 2015